When my parents passed away a few months ago, it was left to me to clean out our family home and get it ready for sale. I tackled the attic last as it was full of moldering boxes of
generations gone by. One box revealed stacks of photo albums, and curious, I stopped to leaf through them. The newer ones were of our generation as well as our children and grandchildren. I leafed
quickly through them, smiling at the memories they evoked.
But time was a-wasting, and there was much yet to do. Still curious, I checked out some of the older albums, but they were full of formal pictures of starched men and stiff-postured women. Captions underneath stated dates and names, none of which were familiar to me. Being an avid armature historian, I stacked the albums in a new box and carried it downstairs for later investigation.
Shall we call it a day? I asked the orange and white cat that had
helped me investigate the boxes.
We will just empty this box, then go down and get some food. That last word caught his attention and he started for the stairs, but as I ripped open the top of another box, he returned and pushed his head into
it, inspecting each old piece of newspaper as I pulled it out.
Nothing much in this one, I am afraid, I told him. He obviously agreed as he turned with a double flip of his tail and headed back for the stairs.
Wait! There is a box at the bottom. It is small. Maybe a jewelry box of some kind. Magically the cat was in the carton inspecting the little box. He pawed at it, then looked up at me and meowed. He kept
pawing and meowing, his voice becoming strident with excitement.
Ok, ok, big fella, get out of the way so I can open it, will you! His nose followed the box as I lifted it.
The way you are behaving it must be an old musty rat or someth. . .ing.
The box lid popped open and the rays of the setting sun caught in the facets of a beautifully cut gem.
My eyes were dazzled with sparkling light as it danced off the gem so that at first, I could not see what color it was. In the dancing light I could see images, flashes of scenes, gone instantly as I turned the stone away from the light. Now I could see what I held in my hand: a perfectly cut ruby almost the shape of a human heart, about the size of a child's fist. It was encased in a delicate cage of gold threads and hung from a long chain of handcrafted gold links.
The cat rubbed his nose against the ruby, purring loudly, then sat, his tail curled around his feet, staring intently at me.
Cat, I whispered.
Is this THE Ruby Heart of the stories Dad told when we were kids? He responded with a trilling
purrp and a nod of his head, just as if he understood my question.
But. I thought those were just stories! Hey, Cat, if the Ruby is real, I whispered.
Do you think the stories were, too?